Aggregates (Construction Raw Materials)
The Austrian Mineral Resources Act (Mineralrohstoffgesetz) distinguishes between “minerals in the property of the landowner” like for instance sand, gravel and low grade limestone used for construction of roads, railway tracks or buildings, and “minerals free for mining” like high grade clay, which is mainly used for the production of bricks.
Deposits of construction minerals are limited by nature and are unevenly distributed in terms of quantity, quality and availability. In spite of sufficient deposits, the supply risk is growing due to diverging claims between mining and other utilisation of the natural environment like for residential purposes or assignment of protected areas. Trusted supplies and short routes of transport as well as environmentally compatible exploitation are tasks of a sustainable raw materials policy.
Even though there is a huge demand for aggregates, it can almost entirely be satisfied from domestic production. The vast majority of construction minerals needed in Austria is provided from more than 1,000 mine sites. In most cases, the raw materials are produced in quarries. After a strong increase in mineral consumption in the decades before 1980, consumption has remained at a constant level of 100 to 105 million tonnes annually during the past decade. Presently, the per capita consumption of construction minerals in Austria is about 12 tonnes per year or 33 kg per day respectively.
The current production data for Austria is published in the Austrian Mining Yearbook (PDF, 4 MB) (in German). International statistics on raw materials are released in English in the WORLD MINING DATA.
Limestone, also calcium carbonate or calcite, is a widespread raw material in Austria’s construction industry. Limestone and its metamorphic equivalent marble are popular basic material for art objects like statues. Limestone and marble are usually produced in open pit mines.
Gypsum and anhydrite
In Austria, the Calcium sulphates gypsum and anhydrite are free for mining. Gypsum and anhydrite are mined from open pit and underground mine sites in the areas of Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria and Tyrol.
Due to their favourable physical properties as construction material, for example refractories, gypsum and anhydrite are preferred construction minerals. In Austria, natural gypsum is providing the basis for the production of gypsum plaster boards as well as ready-mixed mortar and building plasters. Anhydrite is mainly used as setting regulation agent in cement or in concrete production as well as for floating screeds.